V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Perdida and I stand at the river's edge,
trying to name the currents.
But there are thousands,
all bound and braided
like the muscles over bone
of a brown and liquid body
running headlong
down a dammed riverbed.
And that's what it was the day before,
a shallow canyon full of dusty rocks,
its waters manipulated
into canals that feed a desert city—
her house and mine, as I open
my mouth to ask

Perdida to pass the bean
burros she bought at Taco King.
We're sitting on a knoll
above Silva & Sons gravel works
that have enlarged the river's hips
into obese swirls of lazy water.
We cast our baited lines
hoping to snag a slower current
that can be identified.
In the lull between casting and reeling in,
I ask how she got a Spanish name.
Her dad, she begins, was struck
by her beauty in infancy, said,
"This one's such a perdy-little-dolly,
perdilildally, perdildal,..." repeating
under his breath while gazing
through glass until her name
became Perdida.
A hundred babies in the ward,
all ugly, smash-faced screamers—
and there she lay in a clear plastic manger,
floating on the sea of humanity,
for a moment at peace
with the Sonoran Desert.

© by Leilani Wright


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